World Metrology Day 2021: measurement and health

This year’s theme for World Metrology Day is “measurement for health”. The aim is to “create awareness of the important role measurement plays in health, and thus in the wellbeing of every one of us.”

Public health is of course always a cornerstone of government policies and scientific research, but this theme feels particularly relevant while the impact of COVID-19 continues to affect the lives of people around the world.

Unsurprisingly, metrology has played a significant role in the response to the global pandemic. The Bureau International des Poids et Mesures (BIPM) has detailed global projects and National Manufacturing Institute contributions in the ‘fight against COVID-19’, such as supporting the testing and development of ventilators and personal protective equipment.

Of course, metrology contributes to countless other areas of public health and Hexagon has had the privilege of working with many manufacturers in the medical industry over the years. In this blog, we celebrate a few examples of the role measurement plays in various aspects of health and some of our medical partners’ success stories.

High accuracy measurement of tablet press components

The general convenience and systemic effects of oral administration means that a great many medications come in tablet form. These are produced by tablet presses, which compact powders into tablets. A single machine can produce hundreds of thousands of tablets per hour.

In part, the size of the tablet is determined by the amount of drug and other ingredients required, but ensuring uniform size is also crucial for other factors such as the patient’s ability to swallow the tablet. Some studies even suggest that size directly impacts the patient’s willingness to take the medication.

As such, accuracy and precision is crucial, and tablet press machines must meet certain regulations to ensure their safety, hygiene, and effectiveness.

The Germany-based Fette Compacting produces a range of tablet presses, boasting over 5,000 installations worldwide, making them a key player in the pharmaceutical industry. Ensuring the quality of tablet press components, such as turrets, is crucial to the efficiency and effectiveness of their products.

Given the company’s success, production demands have grown over the years and Fette implemented a number of technologies and workflow adaptions to introduce automatic and palletised CMM measurement. In doing so, the team was able to combine reliable measurement of tablet press components with greater throughput.

Making proton beams in radiotherapy more precise

Proton beam therapy is used as a treatment to shrink and destroy cancer cells and stop them growing. It works by aiming a high-energy beam at the cancer and releasing the beam’s energy in the cancerous tissue. The procedure may be used to treat a range of cancers such as brain tumours and cancers affecting the spine and skull base.

Proton therapy is a relatively new type of radiation therapy and clinical research is ongoing to explore its efficacy in treating different cancers. It is thought, however, that it may pose less risk to healthy tissue than traditional radiation therapy, given its high-precision targeting of tumours.

The effectiveness of proton therapy is maximised by the millimetric precision with which the beam strikes the treatment zone. One way of achieving this is to gain complete real-time awareness of the patient’s position during treatment. The team at Itel Telecomunicazioni deploy laser tracker technology, using reflectors on the patient’s bed to verify their position and adjust the beam accordingly.

Given the uniqueness of this application, the team also needed to develop a specialised software interface to dialogue with the tracker.

Ensuring compliance in orthopaedic implant production

Orthopaedic implants can be used to replace, fix or strengthen damaged joints, including shoulder, hip, knee, elbow and finger joints among others. Of course, these implants need to be able to work under a variety of conditions, and these often life-changing parts need to be produced to the tightest of tolerances.

As such, metrological accuracy is of the upmost importance. But of course it isn’t just the given part and its tolerances that make this challenging.

Zimmer Biomet uses CMM environmental monitoring to ensure data integrity and implant quality. Using monitoring sensors and software has helped with traceability, which is particularly important in this space given strict regulations. Furthermore, the team has leveraged the monitoring solution to make production processes leaner.

To learn more about how our customers use measurement for health, check out more of our medical case studies.

Share this blog to spread the message: never forget the importance of 100% quality!

Happy World Metrology Day!


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